Subject: NCC Weekly News: Holy Land Consultation, Countering Hateful Rhetoric

View this email online if it doesn't display correctly

A Statement by General Secretaries Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit (World Council of Churches) and Jim Winkler (National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA)
NCC/WCC Consultation on the Holy Land
September 14, 2016

(Editor's note: This week, the NCC and WCC joined together to hold a Consultation on the Holy Land 1) to address continued pressure by the US government on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to end a crackdown on church, human rights, and humanitarian aid groups, and to allow continuation of their work without impediment; 2) to oppose legislation that would criminalize the use of economic leverage by a church or any other organization that chooses to employ such means, and 3) to advocate for the continued efforts by lawmakers in defense of children, as outlined by the No Way to Treat a Child Campaign, and to ask churches to join in such efforts.  Also, discussion took place regarding advocacy to stop the impending demolition of the West Bank town of Susiya by the Israeli government in an effort to aid expansion of a nearby illegal settlement.)

No people should be denied their rights and, certainly, no people should be denied their rights for generations. The unresolved conflict in Israel and Palestine is primarily about justice, and until the requirement of justice is met, peace cannot be established. As Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza nears the 50-year mark, generations have been suffering under this reality. The possibilities of a viable two-state solution, for which we have long advocated, are more elusive and, seemingly, more unrealistic than ever.

The crisis in Israel and Palestine has brought together representatives of the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA for an important consultation in Arlington, Virginia from September 12-14, 2016. More than 60 representatives of churches and church-related organizations from around the world gathered because we hear the cries of all who are yearning for peace and justice in the land we call Holy. We have particularly valued the participation of Palestinian, Native American, South African, and Israeli participants who have shared their insights and lived experience.

Although this consultation has focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we know it takes place in the context of a region beset by war and violence and are mindful of the various situations throughout the Middle East.

50 years is also a milestone in terms of the Biblical year of Jubilee, reminding us all of the need to seek proper times to reestablish justice so that people can live. “And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family.” (Leviticus 25:10, NRSV)

We are well aware that no one person or group of people or government is blameless, that crimes and depredations have been committed by many over many years, but the cycle of violence must be broken. Too often the structural and permanent violence against a whole people is ignored. But keeping an entire population under occupation and even in a closed area, such as Gaza, in prison-like conditions is a grave and unsustainable situation. We are also well aware that Israel is the occupying force and has commanding power over the people of Palestine and, thus, bears special responsibility for taking the initiative.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9, NRSV) This is not hollow rhetoric employed by Jesus of Nazareth. Truly, those who follow the path of peace will be blessed in the kingdom of heaven and we pledge our support for all those who seek to bring an end to this conflict.

We call for an end to the occupation and to settlements on occupied land, with all its grave and deteriorating dimensions for the Palestinian people, but also for Israel and the whole region beyond. We ask for full respect and protection of human rights defenders, for the rights to tell the truth, to express concern, and to take democratic, non-violent actions for justice and peace. We are deeply concerned about Israeli legislative and other measures to curtail the work of Palestinian and Israeli development and human rights organizations, as well as the lack of transparency concerning investigations into international humanitarian (including faith-based) organizations in the Gaza Strip and the possible negative consequences to delivering critically needed aid to this besieged area.

In this consultation, we have been particularly focusing on the severe effects on children and youth, and particularly the use of administrative detention and the unacceptable use of solitary confinement of Palestinian children.

We have been gathered here in the capital of the USA, and thus we call for the United States to:

cease its practice of arming various state and non-state actors in the Middle East and, in particular, to reconsider its proposed $38 billion military aid package to Israel, for the last thing needed at this time is more weapons.
end the current wave of legislative efforts to penalize the use of non-violent economic measures to influence policy in Israel.
Churches have used such strategies to advance the rights of people and further the cause of justice both domestically and internationally for many years including the Montgomery bus boycott, apartheid South Africa and, currently, on behalf of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

We have met in the United States and have met with U.S. government representatives here because the United States holds enormous power to support the status quo or to take bold steps to peace. Similarly, the churches in the United States have tremendous potential, which must be mobilized, to call on the American government to do much more to secure a just and lasting peace for Israel and Palestine.

Indeed, too often religion has been used to justify the occupation. Too often, religion has been used by Christians, Jews, and Muslims to further hatred and violence. We have seen religion similarly misused in countless other circumstances and we see parallels between the crisis in Israel and Palestine and the struggles for racial justice in the United States and the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa.

The World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of churches who follow the call of the Prince of Peace to work for just peace in many contexts of the world. Most often, this means standing in solidarity with people around the world who are suffering oppression and violence. The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA,, continues to be part of this ecumenical movement for unity, justice, and peace.

The current situation in Israel and Palestine demands urgent action. One cannot keep an entire people subject to pressure and violence for many years and not expect a violent reaction. We do not endorse violence, but we know people are losing hope and faith in the efficacy of nonviolent means.

We encourage our churches to observe the upcoming World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel, September 18-24 (, and join in actions for a just peace in the coming Jubilee year.

As followers of Christ and as people of the Abrahamic tradition, we are spiritually wounded by the continuing hatred and animosity between Jews, Christians, and Muslims and yearn for a new era of peace, harmony, and cooperation so that the land we all call Holy will be shared by and cared for by all who live there. “Hoping against hope, he (Abraham) believed that he would become ‘the father of many nations,’ according to what was said, ‘So numerous shall your descendants be.’ (Romans 4:18, NRSV).

-Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse-Tveit, General Secretary, World Council of Churches
-Jim Winkler, President and General Secretary, National Council of Churches, USA

ELCA Churchwide Assembly addresses human rights concerns in Israel and Palestine

Voting members of the 2016 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly in New Orleans Aug. 8-13 approved two memorials that address concerns over human rights in Israel and Palestine. The assembly also affirmed the ELCA's inter-religious partnerships and efforts to address anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hatred based on religion and reaffirmed actions of previous assemblies regarding responsible investment in Israel-Palestine.

Through the first action – "Peace with Justice in the Holy Land" – the assembly reaffirmed the commitment of the ELCA to continue its awareness-building, accompaniment and advocacy for a peaceful resolution of the Israel and Palestine conflict, as well as seeking ways to support Palestinians and Israelis in restorative-justice dialogue.

The memorial also called for assisting the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) and other Christians to sustain their endangered presence in the Holy Land and promoting the economic empowerment of Palestinians, including through investment, prayer for the ELCJHL and the work of The Lutheran World Federation Jerusalem program.

The action reaffirmed the need to protect the human rights of Palestinians and Israelis and oppose all violence and actions that discriminate or deny any people their freedom, dignity or human rights.

It also urged the church's members, congregations, synods, agencies and presiding bishop to call on their members of Congress and the administration to require that, to continue receiving U.S. financial and military aid, Israel comply with internationally recognized human rights standards as specified in U.S. law, stop settlement building and the expansion of existing settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, end its occupation of Palestinian territory, and enable an independent Palestinian state.

AME/WIM statement regarding treatment of women

The Connectional AME Women in Ministry applauds Pastor Faith Green Timmons of the Bethel United Methodist Church in Flint, Michigan for the respectful way she handled the events on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 when the Republican Presidential nominee visited her church to address the water crisis in Flint. Her willingness to protect the hallowed halls of the church and insure that the purpose and intent of the gathering was focused on the water crisis is evidence of her commitment to excellence in ministry.

We are greatly dismayed that Pastor Timmons would be publicly denigrated as she sought to advocate on behalf of the residents of the city. Again, we applaud Pastor Timmons and encourage her, as well as other sister clergy, who pursue and represent excellence in ministry.

We Stand With Love messaging launched as alternative to divisive campaign rhetoric

Sick and tired of the mudslinging ads in this election, and the hate speech that has taken over the 2016 political campaigns? Join the 'We Stand With Love' messaging movement.

Launched Sept. 15 by a partnership of faith-based and progressive organizations, including the Center for Progressive Renewal, the We Stand With Love campaign invites Americans to "come together to say NO to the hate rhetoric that threatens to divide us and YES to more just and generous ways of living with and loving one another, especially when we disagree."

And to help "overcome evil with good," and share wisdom and unity after a hostile and divided election season in social media and during worship, the campaign website offers free resources, sermon samples, music playlists and daily meditations that will be available for the next ten weeks to both individuals and churches.

"Now, more than ever before, we need faith leaders to be the voice of love in our communities," said the Rev. Cameron Trimble, CEO of the Center for Progressive Renewal and ConvergenceUS. "The We Stand With Love campaign resources these leaders with the rhetoric and materials needed to transform the public conversation into a more loving and compassionate one."

Food Waste Weekend is September 23-25

The idea behind Food Waste Weekend is for you, a member of the clergy, to speak on the weekend of Sept. 23-25 to your congregation about the problem of the waste of food – from your faith perspective.

Wasted food is a problem that starts at the farm & ends on our tables!

Food Waste is the unfortunately poor term we use to discuss all of the edible and wholesome food that is never consumed. The waste of food is a problem that starts at the farm and ends on our tables. This is not rotting or unattractive food as the term suggests. Rather it is food that the farmer was unable to harvest, the grocery store chose not to sell, the food you throw out because the date on the packaging leads you to think that it’s no longer healthy to eat, the excess food in your garden that has overwhelmed you, the super-sized portions of food served in restaurants, the three-day old bread the market throws away when the next shipment comes in, and a lot more. 

All faiths teach about caring for people & the planet you live in!

For the past many years, an increasing number of foodies, non-profits, policy wonks, government officials and others have studied and spoken out about food waste, yet one important segment of our society – the faith community – has been left on the sidelines. All faiths teach about caring for the people about you and the planet under you, yet food waste harms both. It contributes to hunger and malnutrition, exacerbates diet related diseases such as Type II Diabetes and obesity, wastes energy, increases the waste stream and climate change, impacts your taxes, and can even impact national security. All because we have not been using the food we have.

God and Guns: Millennial Faith Leaders Address Gun Violence October 6-7

The Riverside Church in the City of New York, along with a growing list of partners, will host an intensive training on gun violence for faith leaders of all traditions beginning the evening of October 6 through the evening of October 7, 2016. Designed for millennial faith leaders, a demographic with the capacity to shift our culture, the training is also open to ministry teams of any age that include a millennial attendee. Those who attend do not have to agree on the solutions to the epidemic of gun violence, only that something must be done.

Evangelicals and mainline Protestants make up 40 percent of the population, but own guns at higher rates than the rest of the country. The power to change our culture is in our pews.

Attendees will gain concrete tools to educate, engage, and mobilize your congregations to enact change in your community. Each God and Guns 2016 participant will commit to taking concrete action in their circles of influence.

Following the training, The Riverside Church will provide ongoing support, resources, and reporting mechanisms. This will help those who attend stay connected and share the work you are doing in your congregations.

The training begins with a free, open to the public screening of "The Armor of Light" on Thursday, October 6 at 7PM. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with filmmakers Rev. Rob Schenck, Abigail Disney, and Lucy McBath.

Subscribe now to the NCC Podcast!

The NCC is bringing the best, most interesting and relevant voices from the faith community to your mobile device. Every week NCC communications director Rev. Steven D. Martin interviews faith leaders, activists, and people from across the NCC's 38 member communions and affiliated organizations.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast in the iTunes Store and Stitcher Radio. NEW: We're now also on iHeartRadio.  If you like what you're hearing, please write a review. By doing this you will help us reach the widest possible audience!

110 Maryland Ave NE, Suite 108, Washington, DC 20002, United States
You may unsubscribe or change your contact details at any time.